Budokan-The Martial Spirit

a game by Electronic Arts
Genre: Fighting Games
Platforms: DOS, Sega GenesisGenesis
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 5 reviews
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 1 vote
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See also: Arcade Games, Fighting Games
Budokan-The Martial Spirit
Budokan-The Martial Spirit
Budokan-The Martial Spirit
Budokan-The Martial Spirit

You beat Bad Dudes, wasted Double Dragon I and II, and out-ninja'ed Shinobi and Revenge of Shinobi. Maybe you've even wiped up the streets with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So what do you know about martial arts? Nothing. As Tobiko Sensei would say, "You fight like a headless chicken."

It's the Real Thing

Most fighting games may be great games, but they leave you with little real understanding of martial arts. They usually mash comic book ninjitsu, karate, and kung fu into "video-fu."

Budokan, Electronic Arts' first Genesis game, combines great game- play with a true-to-life depiction of classic Okinawan Karate and Japanese Kendo. In fact, comparing the martial arts action in typical beat-em-ups to Budokan is like comparing "bait" to "sushi."

The School of Hard Knocks

Your task is simple: master four martial arts well-enough to represent the Tobiko-Ryu Dojo with honor at an all -- star tournament in Tokyo's Budokan.

You start off in the courtyard of Tobiko Sensei's martial arts school. Here you learn four fighting arts -- Karate, Kendo, and classic karate weapons the Bo (long staff) and the Nunchaku (double clubs). Of course, you can skip class and go directly to the Budokan, but bring along plenty of Band-aids.


  • Mastering the controller requires accuracy over speed. Learn to time your button pressing to the character's onscreen movement.
  • Fighting with Karate, Kendo, and the Bo you repeat strikes each time you press a button. But with the Nunchaku, just hold the button down tor lightning quick multiple strikes.

The courtyard fronts five buildings -- Sensei's hall and one dojo for each art -- and a Free-Spar Mat. In each dojo you can practice by yourself or face-off against a computer opponent with three degrees of skill.

Learning the moves is challenging but fun. They're intricate and numerous; Karate alone has 31 possible moves. Many of the best (and most effective) moves require precise, simultaneous button presses. Your controller gets a real workout.

The forward jump strikes in Karate and Kendo (simultaneously press Upper Right Diagonal and any button) are their most powerful moves. But they eat a lot of Stamina.

But in addition to the fancy finger presses, it's essential to learn patience in order to build up Stamina and focus Ki, your internal life force. Stamina gauges your physical strength and Ki governs the force of your blows.

Resting builds Stamina, but it you hold a block Stamina doesn't increase.

The Free-Spar Mat is only practice but it's a kick, in more ways than one. Pit your skills against any other fighting form, for example, Karate versus Kendo. Here you can also face-off against a second player, but this is the only time two people can play each other.

Learn the lower spin moves for Karate and the Bo, no one can defend against them. But stay alert, your opponents try to counter quickly with low blows.

Fight to the Finish

At the Budokan you confront representatives from other dojos, twelve opponents in all.

The Budokan's highlights are encounters with rare martial arts in addition to different styles of the arts you know. For example, you'll face masters of the Tonfa (double sticks), Kusari-gama (sickle and chain), and the Naginata (long lance) -- all classic Okinawan and Japanese weapons. You even face a ninja, who should please both martial arts purists and Shinobi disciples alike.

  • The Bo Is best versus the Nunchaku and the Kendo masters.
  • Karate's Grouch Sweep Kick is a very effective inside move. Press Down, then simultaneously hit Lower Left Diagonal and a button. For multiple sweeps, keep the button pressed down.

In the tournament you need all your fighting skills, but you're only allowed to win with any one martial art a maximum of four times. You get three chances to defeat an opponent. Win and you move up, minus one usage of your winning skill. Lose and you fight a previous opponent again but without losing a skill. Use up your skills and it's back to the dojo for more training.

  • You need room to maneuver. Don't let an opponent force you to the edge of the mat. When the match begins quickly advance to the center of the mat and fight from there.
  • Karate's High Block (press Upper Left Diagonal and a button simultaneously) is very strong defense against the Nunchaku.
  • Longer is better. The weapons in order according to length: the Bo, the Nunchaku, and the Kendo shinai (bamboo sword).

Why Do You Think They Call It "Art"?

Budokan accurately portrays martial arts in a sophisticated, almost elegant way. Even the manual is well-done. The animation and graphics are smooth, clean, and detailed. In fact, get a wooden staff and the onscreen Bo movements are good enough that you can really learn some cool moves!

Here's a martial arts game that emphasizes the "art" over the "martial" without scrimping on the action. Budokan is a smash that ought to give other fighting games a swift kick in the pants.

Download Budokan-The Martial Spirit


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
  • Game modes: Single game mode

Player controls:

  • Up, Down, Left, Right - Arrow keys
  • Start - Enter (Pause, Menu select, Skip intro, Inventory)
  • "A" Gamepad button - Ctrl (usually Jump or Change weapon)
  • "B" button - Space (Jump, Fire, Menu select)
  • "C" button - Left Shift (Item select)

Use the F12 key to toggle mouse capture / release when using the mouse as a controller.

Game Reviews

It's martial arts at its finest. Adapted from the computer version, Electronic Arts is now converting it over to the Genesis. In this simulation you take on a variety of martial arts students each of which possess increasingly better abilities and skills. Also each student uses a specific weapon and has his own specialty. Kendo, Bo and Nunchaka are but a few of the special martial arts forms. Your goal therefore is to be the master of all and to do this you must study each form in detail, spar with your sensai (teacher) and then, when you are ready, take on the ultimate challenge -the grand master of each martial arts form. Practice is slow as each form requires you to know over 30 specific moves ranging from uppercut strikes to low spin kicks. Throw in excellent graphics which capture the oriental look and mood along with large characters and you end up with a great simulation.

  • Theme: Sim.
  • Players: 1
  • Difficulty: Hard

E.A. began it all with the first martial arts simulation. You'll need to train, keep fit, and be ready to take on the toughest competitors around the world.

Along with Populous, this issue's Sega Genesis Game of the Month, Budokan: The Martial Spirit was chosen to be among the first games released by Electronic Arts for the Genesis — and for good reason. Budokan is a beautiful game with detailed, distinctive graphics and remarkably lifelike action, fleshing out a very solid and entertaining premise.

You play as a young martial arts student studying in a dojo, or school, under the tutelage of many fine teachers. The game begins in the courtyard of the dojo, and you can enter any of six buildings to start your training.

Four of these buildings allow you to concentrate on specific disciplines: karate, kendo, nunchaku, or bo. In each case you practice the techniques vital to mastering the discipline, either by sparring with an instructor or by practicing alone. When you spar with a teacher, he senses your strength and your abilities, pushing you to your limits but not beyond them. At the end of the sparring match, the teacher offers criticism of your performance. This criticism is different each time, with the teacher praising your strengths and suggesting areas for improvement.

The fifth building on the courtyard contains a sparring mat on which you can practice any of the four fighting techniques against fellow students. Unlike sparring with a teacher, though, your fellow students won't be easy on you.

The sixth building houses Tobiko Sensei, the master of the dojo. His advice and philosophies are the basis of your training. Once you feel confident about your fighting skills, you can move on to the Budokan to compete in a martial arts tournament. Here you'll meet 12 opponents from around the world, each with a different style and level of expertise. You can choose any of the four techniques you've studied, and you can use each technique four times. Be certain you're ready for the tournament before entering, though. Your opponents will be tougher than any you've faced.

Budokan stands out among martial arts games as more than just a violent free-for-all. It feels like a true martial arts simulation, with emphasis on the arts. Budokan captures not only the action, but also the careful study, endless practice, and Oriental philosophies of the disciplines. It instills respect for the Japanese culture and traditions that permeate the game. And, of course, it's awfully fun to play.

Budokan is a martial arts game covering Karate, Kendo, Nunchaku, and Bo. In this game you can practice your skills alone, or spar against the instructors or your friends. Finally, when you feel you are ready, you can travel to the world championship martial arts tournament at Budokan.

Snapshots and Media

Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Screenshots

DOS Screenshots